The psychoanalytical mind plays a vital role in one’s mental health and their ability to think rationally.
Psychoanalysis was brought about by neurologist and theorist Sigmund Freud. The psychoanalytical lens can be used to criticize a text as an expression of the personality, state of mind, feelings, and desires of its author. This lens includes the ego, super-ego, and the id. Any imbalance of the three components of a psychoanalytical brain can cause an upset in the way one may make decisions. In “Macbeth”, Macbeth’s psychoanalytical mind changes several times during the play and this causes a mental imbalance to occur which ultimately leads to his death. The desire to have power has the ability of corrupting our minds into insanity. Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” follows Macbeth’s psychoanalytic development from morality into immorality.
Macbeth’s mental state, while looking through a psychoanalytic lens, can be seen as him first following his ego, then following his super-ego as he contemplates killing Duncan, and finally falling into his demise once he is king by acting through his id once he kills Duncan. At the start of the play, Macbeth primarily follows on his ego. The ego prevents one from acting on one’s basic urges brought on by the id, but at the same time works to have a balance with one’s morals and beliefs from the super-ego. Macbeth seems mentally sound and content with his life at this time.
He is a brave warrior who loves his country and is loved by all.Macbeth is seen as a heroic figure in his country. The Bloody Captain asserts, “For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), / Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, / Which smoked with bloody execution, / Like Valor’s minion, carved out his passage / Till he faced the slave; / Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, / Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops, / And fixed his head upon our battlements” (Mac.1.2.
18-25). This quote emphasizes Macbeth’s bravery to his country, Scotland. He is willing to do anything in order to defend and protect his country.
The bloody captain sees this and proclaims how all of Macbeth’s courageous acts during battle in turn show his allegiance to Scotland. Even Duncan, the king of Scotland, recognizes Macbeth’s noble and kind-hearted nature toward all civilians of Scotland. King Duncan notes, “What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won” (Mac.1.2.
78). King Duncan announces that the Thane of Cawdor is a traitor and that he will be stripped of his title and executed. He then goes on to say that Macbeth will fill this title. Duncan calls Macbeth noble which is a very fitting description of him at this point in the play since he is in fact a righteous and honorable man to all of Scotland. Macbeth begins the play an honored man due to the prevalence of his ego at this time which allows him to be mentally sound and content.
Contrary to the start of the play, Macbeth begins to feel his super-ego heighten as he contemplates killing Duncan. The super-ego is the aspect of personality that holds all of one’s internal morals that we obtain from both parents and society, the sense of right and wrong. As he ponder killing duncan, he seems to experience guilt and feels it is a sinful act to commit. Macbeth states, “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, / Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, / Who should against his murderer shut the door, / Not bear the knife myself (Mac.2.
3.13-16). Macbeth knows it is morally wrong to kill anyone, especially Duncan.
He is his cousin and subject, and therefore, killing him would be a mistake. Macbeth is aware that he should be protecting Duncan, not secretly plotting his death. Macbeth’s active conscience intensifies as he begins to feel paranoid.An example of this sense of paranoid is when Macbeth sees the “dagger of the mind”. Macbeth says, “Come, let me clutch thee. / I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. / Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible / To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but / A dagger of the mind, a false creation / Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?” (Mac.
2.1.45-51). Macbeth fears for his soul and how committing regicide will affect his life: “But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, / We’d jump the life to come” (Mac.1.
7.5-7). As Macbeth lays out the pros and cons of committing regicide, he realizes that killing Duncan is truly a poor idea. He comes to discover that in killing Duncan, he will essentially be selling his soul to the devil and will be damned to hell.
Macbeth is not willing to risk the fate of his soul and hence decides against killing the king. Macbeth struggles to decide whether or not to kill Duncan, he becomes paranoid and guilty of what is to come if he goes through with this murder. The id is the exact opposite of the super-ego.
It deals with the unconscious mind and regards instinctive and primitive behaviors. Therefore, soon after finally decides to kill Duncan and becomes king, Macbeth’s personality and mental state completely sift. Freud declares that if one’s id is too strong, it could lead to irrational, and impulsive decisions.
Macbeth is the perfect example of Freud’s belief regarding an overactive id. For example, after being king for some time, he decides to act only on what his first impulse tells him to do. Macbeth claims, “From this moment / The very firstlings of my heart shall be / The firstlings of my hand” (Mac.
4.1.166-167). Although before this moment in the play, Macbeth shows traces of him channeling his id, this is the very point where Macbeth full gives into his id. He no longer has any remorse and acts solely on his impulses. Macbeth’s suppressed desire is to be king of Scotland. This fuels his id and corrupts his mind into believing that murder is the only way to rise to the top and eliminate any threats that may be present.
One example of when Macbeth evidently displays his complete abuse of his id is when he settles on killing Macduff’s entire lineage. Macbeth declares, “The castle of Macduff I will surprise, / Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword / His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls / That trace him in his line” (Mac.4.1.171-174). Macbeth continues his murderous acts by killing Macduff’s family. The immoral, insane part about it is that, he has no true reason in doing so. Just the fact that Macduff’s loyalties do not lie with him and that he sees Macduff as a threat, Macbeth decides to kill Macduff’s entire family line, but not Macduff himself.
This suggests that his insanity is rapidly increasing and that he is plummeting into his demise. Macbeth’s psychoanalytical shift into his id represents his tragic submission to the impulsive, demonic side of his personality which ultimately leads him to his untimely death. Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” follows Macbeth’s psychoanalytic development from morality into immorality.
Macbeth’s mental state, while looking through a psychoanalytic lens, can be seen as him first following his ego, then following his super-ego as he contemplates killing Duncan, and finally falling into his demise once he is king by acting through his id once he kills Duncan. Psychoanalysis is relevant to today’s world today because it says a lot about how decisions are made and how one can easily slip into a mind set driven by the id. Standards of popularity in the adolescent world too often force young adult into acting impulsively in order to feel accepted. These irrational actions can result in dangerous, and in the worst cases, tragic repercussions.
The psychoanalytical lens is all about one’s mental state and how they rationalize their lives. Mental health is a very important and prevalent topic today because of the mental health disorder epidemic going on in today’s society currently. Anxiety and depression prove to be very common mental disorders that affect countless people in the world. Because of this, bringing awareness to the world of mental health is imperative in the well being of all people.